Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis

Dumping syndrome is a complication of stomach surgery. The stomach contents are rapidly moved into the small intestines after meals. This causes patients to have abdominal pain, vomiting, and the other symptoms of dumping syndrome. The symptoms are caused by at least two factors. The first factor is blood flow changes; there is an increased blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract to aid in digestion. The second is increased insulin release in response to the meal. Most patients who undergo stomach surgery will have some minor symptoms for 1–6 months after the procedure. Only a small percentage, 1% to 2%, will have serious problems. Detection of the condition is made with an upper gastrointestinal series. The barium given with this study will move rapidly from the stomach into the small intestine. Most individuals with this condition recover with time, and the prognosis is favorable.

Living With Your Diagnosis
The symptoms of dumping syndrome can be categorized by when they occur, either early or late. In early dumping syndrome, the symptoms begin a few minutes to 45 minutes after eating and are caused by increased blood flow to the intestines. Symptoms include weakness, sweating, flushing, dizziness, and fainting. The heart rate increases and the blood pressure drops. Some individuals become short of breath. Symptoms of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and explosive diarrhea also occur. In late dumping syndrome, the symptoms begin 2–3 hours after meals. It is caused by excess insulin release, which causes the blood sugar to drop. Symptoms of sweating, anxiety, shakiness, and fainting occur. The blood pressure tends to drop and a headache may develop.

This condition can generally be treated on an outpatient basis. Diet modification is the key. Vitamin and mineral supplementation may be necessary to correct deficiencies. In early dumping syndrome, lying down until the symptoms have passed may help. In late dumping syndrome, eating candy or drinking sweetened drinks may help raise the blood sugar and relieve symptoms. It may also help to add soluble fiber such as pectin or gaur gum to the diet.

The DOs
• When having symptoms, lie down and rest.
• Eat six small meals a day that are low in carbohydrate and high in protein.
• Restrict fluids to between meals.
• Take vitamin and mineral supplements as prescribed.
• If symptoms are not controlled with simple measures, consider adding fiber in the form of pectin (found in fruits and vegetables) or gaur gum (a filler in ice cream and other food) to your diet.

The DON’Ts
• Avoid fluids with meals. Fluids can speed up the passage of food from the stomach to the small intestines.
• Avoid simple and refined sugars. Simple sugars are found in fruits.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If symptoms are not relieved by simple treatments.
• If you have signs of gastrointestinal bleeding, such as vomiting blood, dark tarry stools, or bright red blood with bowel movements.

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse